If you had a wreck with an uninsured motorist in Jacksonville, Florida, you have several possibilities for recovering compensation for your injuries. An uninsured motorist accident lawyer in Jacksonville, FL at the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine can help you navigate the multiple laws that govern these challenging claims and detour around the roadblocks of Florida’s personal injury laws.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) in Florida
The State of Florida requires that all drivers carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage to pay for their medical bills and disability. Although they are allowed to buy higher amounts of coverage, people only have to buy coverage that provides up to $5,000 in death benefits and $10,000 total for medical bills and disability. In a significant crash, this amount of coverage will be woefully inadequate.
Also, Florida is a “no-fault” state for motor vehicle accidents, which means that the law generally bans injured motorists from suing the person who caused the wreck. Your PIP coverage pays for your losses, not the negligent driver.
How to Sue an At-Fault Driver
In application, the ban on suing the driver who hurt you can be grossly unjust in some circumstances. The Florida Legislature created a clause called the “permanent injury threshold.” You can sue the at-fault driver if the accident resulted in:
- Wrongful death
- Permanent injury
- Significant scarring and disfigurement
- Significant loss of an important bodily function
In any one of these tragic situations, you can file a lawsuit against the owner, driver, registrant, or passenger of the vehicle. If, however, the at-fault driver is uninsured, you have two options:
- Go after the at-fault uninsured driver’s personal assets or other insurance coverage. Sometimes people have umbrella liability coverage through their homeowner’s insurance.
- File a claim on your uninsured motorist coverage on your auto insurance policy. Not everyone carries this coverage on their auto policy. This optional coverage provides a valuable safety net to protect you from devastating financial losses in these circumstances. Your uninsured coverage will help pay for losses above what your PIP coverage paid.
How Do We Prove the Driver Was At-Fault?
To establish legal liability for a motor vehicle accident, we have to collect the evidence that proves all four of these factors:
- Duty of care: Everyone operating a motor vehicle has a duty to drive safely and give full attention to driving the vehicle.
- Breached duty of care: If the driver fails to meet the standard of the duty of care, it is negligence. Let’s say the driver behind you is texting while driving. Their failure to drive safely and give full attention to the road violates the duty of care and is negligence.
- Negligence caused the accident: Because the driver looked down at their cell phone to text while driving, they did not see that traffic slowed down, and they plowed into the back of your car. The failure to pay attention to the task of driving was negligent and it caused the crash.
- Damages: The negligence must cause measurable damages. If there was no property damage and you did not get hurt, you cannot sue the at-fault driver. If, on the other hand, you suffered injuries because of negligence, the driver is liable.
What Damages Can You Recover from the Responsible Party?
The responsible party, who can be the at-fault driver or another person whose negligence contributed to the accident, can be liable for your:
Medical bills: Every reasonable medical expense you incurred because of your injuries can fit into this category. This includes the ambulance, emergency room, hospital, surgery, diagnostic testing, your regular doctor, specialists, treatments, procedures, physical therapy, equipment, supplies, and prescription drugs.
Ongoing and future medical care: With injuries significant enough to satisfy Florida’s permanent injury threshold requirements, you are likely to need ongoing or future medical care. Within this category, we can include plastic and reconstructive surgery, prosthetic devices, equipment like wheelchairs, rehabilitation facility, in-home nursing care, and long-term residential care at a skilled nursing facility or nursing home.
Lost wages: With significant injuries, you will almost certainly miss work. You can get compensation for your lost earnings linked to your injuries from the wreck. Also, you can recover for your anticipated lost earnings for future medical care, treatments, and recuperation.
Loss of earning potential: Permanent injuries often impact a person’s ability to work and function. If you cannot perform your job because of physical or cognitive impairment from your injuries, you will likely suffer a decrease in the amount of income you earn. You might have to take a different job or work part-time instead of full-time. This decrease is a loss that we can calculate by working with vocational experts.
Disability: If you cannot work at all because of catastrophic injuries, you are disabled. We will add the value of this component to your total damages calculation.
Non-Economic Damages: With a severe injury, you experienced pain, mental anguish and other damages that are challenging to value monetarily. Not to worry. With our experience at handling these cases, we will calculate the appropriate amount for your intangible losses, which can also include physical suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, and loss of consortium.
Do You Have to Hire a Lawyer for Your Uninsured Motorist Claim?
Florida law does not require that you have a lawyer handle your uninsured motorist injury claim, but it is prudent to have an attorney navigate the process for you. An uninsured motorist accident lawyer in Jacksonville, FL can help you navigate Florida law. If you do not jump through all the mandated hoops, the judge will dismiss your case.
At Anidjar & Levine, we will explore every possible means to get you all the compensation you deserve. We will treat you with respect and listen to your concerns. We do not charge any legal fees for a consultation. Call us today at 1-800-747-3733 to set up your free consultation.